Hikma strongly condemns the attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque by armed Government of Israel Troops. We also wish to express our ongoing disappointment at the Government of Canada’s inability to speak clearly and in a principled fashion in speaking out against the inhumane treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli occupying forces. While Palestinians were preparing to start another day of fasting after the morning prayer on Friday, April 15, 2022, Israeli armed forces and border police broke into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and fired rubber coated steel bullets and smoke grenades at Palestinian worshippers. More than 150 Palestinian civilians, including women, children, and elderly, were injured in this vicious and unprovoked attack. The Israeli forces also targeted journalists and paramedics on site, as footage from social media demonstrated. Moreover, Israeli forces conducted illegal mass arrests of Palestinians who were present in Al-Aqsa compound, including women and children. Over 350 Palestinian civilians were illegally detained and put on buses to transport them out of occupied East Jerusalem without any due process.

Such actions by Israel, the occupying Power, constitute blatant violations of international law and United Nations resolutions regarding Occupied East Jerusalem. These actions further violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. Moreover, the aggressive and arbitrary restrictions imposed by the occupation against Palestinian worshippers violate their rights to freedom of worship and religion, as enshrined in international human rights law.

Once again, we reiterate our calls to hold Israel, the Occupying Power, accountable. Invasions of religious sites, mass arrests, indiscriminate shooting, and extrajudicial killings are the traits of barbaric regimes that have been emboldened through a culture of impunity. The longer that Israel goes without any real consequences to its flagrant violations of international law and the rules-based-international order, the further we get from any real chance of peace. Through its constant flouting of human rights law, the Occupying Power continues to show that it truly believes that it is above the law. The Israeli presence in the occupied territories including through its settlement-colonial enterprise, and its inhumane 17-year siege of the Gaza Strip that has turned it into an uninhabitable open-air prison has all but eroded any prospect for a two-State solution based on equal rights and has pushed us all into a reality of apartheid.

The Government of Canada should treat all aggressors in a similar manner, and as such, should hold Israel to the same standards it has held Russia to as the events in Ukraine continue to unfold. We have heard from politicians and leaders here and around the world that sanctions and boycotts serve as an important tool of diplomacy to pressure aggressors into abiding by international law and preserve the rules-based international order. It is imperative, now more than ever, that the Government of Canada takes measures that would hold the Israeli regime accountable.

Israeli soldiers continue to be the judges, jailors, and executioners of Palestinian civilians. In recent weeks, Israeli forces have conducted extrajudicial killings throughout the occupied West Bank without any accountability. In one day alone, four Palestinian civilians were shot dead at point-blank range, including a 16-year-old in Jenin, a mother-of-six widow in Bethlehem who, according to local reports, had a severe visual impairment, a 19-year-old soccer player in Bethlehem, and a young woman in Hebron. A day later, Israeli soldiers invaded the city of Nablus and fired at civilians, killing a 34-year-old lawyer and father of three. In that week alone, a total of fourteen Palestinians, including four children, were shot dead by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers.

To this end, we call upon the Government of Canada, once again, to move past what has been shown to be an impotent strategy of empty words of condemnation and hold Israel accountable through strict and swift measures, including:

  1. Ending all arms trade between Canada and the Occupying Power (which is now at a 30 year high);
  2. Working towards recognizing an independent State of Palestine based on the pre-June 6, 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions;
  3. A suspension of Canada’s Free-Trade Agreement with Israel;
  4. Canada must demand that Israel immediately cease its violations and provocations and abide by its obligations, in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions, including Security Council resolutions, from resolution 49 (1948) through to resolution 2334 (2016).
  5. A detailed response from Global Affairs Canada and the Government on its decision to not label Israel as an apartheid state.

We ask the Canadian Government, once again, to put aside geostrategic considerations and focus on preserving international law and our rules-based international order to help avoid another deadly escalation as we have seen over the past years.  The status quo has not brought us any closer to peace in the region; In fact, it is making it more and more difficult to ever get to that point.  Accordingly, an immediate course correction is needed if Canada is serious about peace in the Middle East. 

Palestinians deserve the same swift, decisive and comprehensive response toward Israel that is being directed toward Russia on behalf of the people of Ukraine.  Anything less only serves to perpetuate systemic Islamophobia.

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